The Kids In Need Foundation (KINF) was established in 1995 by the school supplies and office products industry. Supported financially at first by the industry’s international trade association, KINF became self-supporting in 2002. In 1997, KINF opened its first Resource Center in Chicago. At the time, no other national non-profit organization had the same mission. The Teacher Grants program was introduced that same year.
By the end of 1999, KINF had opened five Resource Centers, and the concept of a facility where teachers could go to obtain free supplies started catching on. The first Summit for staff and volunteers from free stores for teachers to share best practices was held that year as well. In 2004, the model changed slightly in that we no longer started Centers but “adopted” already established ones. Free stores now apply to become affiliates of the National Network of Resource Centers.
At the end of 2007, KINF became independent from the trade association. In 2009, the School Ready Supplies program was established to accommodate community school supply giveaway programs, and in 2013, a program to provide school supplies to children affected by natural disasters, Second Responder®, was added, although KINF had already helped devastated communities, such as providing $7 million in supplies to Gulf Coast schools after Hurricane Katrina.
Now in 2020, there are 43 affiliate Resource Centers. KINF has distributed more than a billion in school supplies since its founding, and directly benefits more than 6 million students and nearly 200,000 teachers annually. The Kids In Need Foundation is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.